Former Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley has reason to feel confident after his week at the East-West Shrine Game.
After drawing praise for his performance all week from scouts and outside observers alike, Worley believes he strengthened his case for the 2018 NFL draft by participating in last week’s all-star game in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"I think I did pretty well this past week and I showed some things that I wasn’t able to showcase at Ohio State that I was able to do," Worley said Sunday at the Midwest Sports Spectacular, one day after playing in the Shrine Game. "I would say that I made an impact. Just from feedback from the teams and scouts and things like that. Hearing from them and how they viewed that I did during practice, it was fun."
While the practices are generally considered to be the most important part of Shrine Game week – as nearly all of the NFL scouts who made the trip to the Shrine Game went to watch practices and left before Saturday’s game itself – Worley felt like he put his versatility and ability to pick things up quickly on display in the game, as injuries to teammates forced him to move back to outside linebacker after practicing all week at middle linebacker.
"It’s one thing doing it for a team that you’ve been playing for four or five years, but I played all three linebacker positions in one week," said Worley, who previously played all three linebacker positions in the 4-3 defense at Ohio State this past season. "And learning the playbook in one week. And it just shows the kind of competitor I am, the kind of teammate I am, but also, when you turn that film on, it shows that I can play football as well. So at the end of the day, that’s what the NFL teams are looking for, a football player."
All in all, Worley left St. Petersburg feeling as though he did what he set out to do during the week-long draft prospect showcase.
"I just about did everything that I wanted to show," Worley said. "Show them I can cover, show them I can pass-rush. I can play in a box, I’m aggressive, I can use my hands. Those are all things that teams are looking for in a linebacker, but that’s up for the coaches to decide and the scouts, if there’s anything I could have done better."
The Shrine Game was the final time that Worley will play in an actual football game before April’s NFL draft, but even so, Worley’s draft process is far from over. The next big step – and perhaps the most important step – will be pre-draft workouts, including the NFL Scouting Combine and Ohio State’s pro day in March.
Worley, who was been preparing for the draft with longtime performance trainer Tom Shaw in Orlando, Fla., said he began training for those workouts even before the Shrine Game, as he felt he would still be in football shape just a few weeks after playing his final game as a Buckeye, but wanted to get to work right away on improving his speed and explosiveness for the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump and other combine drills.
"Honestly, I’ve been preparing for the combine/pro day-type situation since I’ve left Ohio State," Worley said. "I just knew that I was still fresh off the season, so I didn’t do too much football things, I just wanted to kind of get my feet wet with the combine stuff and over there at Tom Shaw’s, they still do a great job of preparing you for football drills and things like that. And a lot of (on-field drills) that we actually do during the combine, we actually did at the Shrine Game, so that was a plus."
Now that he can begin focusing his full attention on combine and pro day prep, Worley will remain hard at work to put himself in the best position possible to succeed at those events. That said, he expects the training over the next couple months to actually be easier than preparing for spring practice at Ohio State would have been.
"Right now, the guys at Ohio State, they’re getting ready for spring ball so they’re putting their bodies through a banging," Worley said. "I’ve been training and preparing for the combine, so it’s a lot less banging on the body preparing for that. It’s a lot less taxing on the body."
While many draft prospects attempt to change their weight or otherwise improve their body compositions before the combine, Worley says he feels good about where he is at from that standpoint, and is now just looking to fine-tune himself in the upcoming weeks.
"I’m at a good weight right now," said Worley, who measured in at 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds at the Shrine Game. "I’m happy with where I’m at, I feel comfortable with where I’m at. So from here on out, it’s just leaning up, cutting down body fat, just kind of taking it to the next step."